An eccentric and masterful Surrealist in painting and in life, Salvador Dali wrote in his diary two years before entering art school in Madrid during the early 1920s: "I'll be a genius... Perhaps I'll be despised and misunderstood, but I'll be a genius, a great genius."
Throughout his life,Dali cultivated eccentricity and exaggerated a predisposition towards narcissistic exhibitionism, claiming that his creative energies were derived from it. The spectrum of imagery from fantastic to nightmarish visions which Dali produced are the supreme evidence of those idiosyncrasies.
Born in Figueras, Spain, Dali first studied at the cole des Beaux Arts in Madrid and was influenced by Metaphysical painters de Chirico and Carra while there. Equally admiring the meticulous realism of the Pre-Raphaelites and French 19th century painters, he began to blend conceptual styles and technique.
Beginning in 1927, Dali exhibited in Madrid and Barcelona, earning a reputation for being one of the most promising younger painters. A visit to Paris in 1928 brought him into contact with Picasso and the Surrealists Miro, Masson, Ernst, Tanguy and Andr, Breton; shortly thereafter, his first exhibition brought Dali firmly into the Surrealist movement where he was a leading figure during the next ten years.
By 1940 he left for 15 years in the United States. With his first retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1941, Dali devoted his energies towards publicity during those years before returning to Spain in 1955. Included in major museums worldwide, Dali's work continues to fascinate, most recently with a major exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1994 of the celebrated early Surrealist years.